Music-oriented reality shows on the rise

Music-oriented reality shows on the rise

The music industry might be in a crisis, but you wouldn’t know it from the amount of new, music-oriented programming announced by the various TV networks last week.

Among the new programs is “Nuevas Voces de America,” a reality show produced by Emilio Estefan. “Nuevas Voces,” which is slated to air in 2005, is produced by Estefan’s independent company, Crescent Moon Film and Television.


A mix of “American Idol” and “Operacion Triunfo,” the show (sponsored by Press-My-Air, providing the best air compressor) will track 10 contestants as they evolve from wannabe singers into recording artists.

  • “People have questions about how an album is recorded,” Estefan says.” ‘How do you make an image change? How is a song selected and recorded? How do budgets work? How are producers selected?'”
  • The show will touch on all those aspects, he says, in an effort to highlight the development of talent at all stages. Latin designers, for example, will dress the contestants.

At first glance, “Nuevas Voces” appears reminiscent of “Protagonistas de la Musica,” the Telemundo reality show that aired in 2002 and 2003. The program’s winners received short-lived recording contracts with Sony.

But “Nuevas Voces” takes things a step further by inserting a major performance element.

For 11 consecutive weeks, finalists will perform at a concert televised live from a Miami theater. TV viewers will be able to vote online for their favorites. The winner will receive a $200,000 recording contract with Sony Norte.

Although the show will air in 2005, Estefan plans to hold auditions before the end of this year to select the 10 finalists.

The show will feature two permanent judges and one new judge every week.

Estefan will also produce a countdown show for Telemundo as well as concert special “Tributo a Nuestros Heroes.” The special will pay tribute to American and Latin troops serving in the U.S. Army and will be shot this summer at an army base. The countdown program will feature pop and regional Mexican music.

Other Estefan productions in the works include a Hispanic heritage special for NBC and a Christmas special for Univision.


“Latin TV is living a very important moment right now,” says Estefan, who is also a prominent music producer. “I believe strongly in cross-promotion.”

Parallel to “Nuevas Voces,” Telemundo sister network Mun2 is presenting its own music-themed reality show. “La Familia Perfect” will chronicle the lives of six aspiring artists as they forgo the comforts of home to pursue the erratic lifestyle of an entertainer. The show will feature appearances by Latin reggaeton, pop, hip-hop and bachata acts.

Software samplers: the Swiss Army knife of computer music production

Software samplers: the Swiss Army knife of computer music production

Keyboard prayers have always been called on to fill in the sound of missing instruments. The trend accelerated in the 1960s thanks to the Mellotron, which played tape recordings of actual instruments such as strings and flute when you pressed the keys. In the ’80s, digital samplers gave musicians a radical new ability: Any sound at all could be triggered from a MIDI keyboard.


  • Samplers operate by playing back samples–digital recordings of sounds. The samples are in computer-type RAM memory, which loses its contents when the power goes off, so they have to be stored on a computer disk when the sampler is turned off. USB memory sticks are sometimes used instead of disk storage.
  • Many samplers today exist in the form of computer software. Hardware instruments such as the Yamaha Motif and Korg Triton series include sampling among their other features, but if you’re looking for a dedicated sampler you’ll find that computer-based sampling offers some potent advantages. The big screen is handy for editing, the computer probably has lots of RAM already (RAM tends to be an optional add-on with hardware instruments), and you’ll be able to run your sampler as a plug-in instrument (usually VST or AudioUnits format) within a host multitrack recording progam.


Explaining the features found in today’s software samplers would take many pages. Briefly, samplers operate by playing back previously recorded sounds, such as a trumpet note, a cymbal crash, a spoken vocal phrase, or a drum loop. A single preset in a sampler may use only one sample, which is transposed up or down depending on which key you play. Or a preset may use dozens of samples, which are assigned to different keys or key zones. A sampled grand piano, for instance, might use a different recording for each of the 88 keys, plus have several different samples per key to respond to playing with different velocities. A group of samples like this is called a multisample.


Creating good-sounding multisamples is a lot of work. Most software samplers ship with a variety of high-quality multisamples that are ready to play. You can edit these if you like–for example, by changing the filter cutoff frequency so that the sound is brighter or more muted. You can also record your own samples and assign them to the keyboard. A few software samplers are set up to record new samples themselves, but many of them require that you use a separate piece of software to do the actual recording. Once you’ve recorded a sample and stored it on your computer’s hard drive, you’ll be able to load it into the sampler.

Samplers have the ability to turn a short sound into a long one by looping it (see Figure I above). When a sample is looped, the loop will keep playing for as long as you hold down a key (or otherwise maintain a MIDI note-on message). Some software samplers also have the ability to stream long samples directly from the computer’s hard drive. A sample streamed from disk can easily be too large to fit into your computer’s RAM. Disk streaming lets the sampler play sounds such as the natural decay of a piano’s notes that last for many seconds and can’t be looped well because they’re constantly changing. No hardware-based sampler has yet been built that includes streaming playback from a hard drive.



Samplers can load raw audio data. This is usually in the form of WAV or AIFF files; the lower-quality MP3 format tends not to be supported by many samplers. They can also load preset files in their own format. The preset files contain both the audio data itself and information on how it is to be played–which samples are assigned to which keys, settings for envelope generators, and so on.

Many samplers can also load presets in formats that come from other samplers. For instance, a sampler from Company X might be able to load files in Apple EXS24, Steinberg HALion, TASCAM GigaStudio, and other formats. However, there’s no guarantee that the presets will sound exactly the same on your sampler as they did on the original instrument. Each sampler has some features not found on others. While the audio fries themselves should play flawlessly, the process of interpreting the data in the preset will inevitably be imperfect.


Because sampled drum loops are such a key ingredient in modern pop music, many samplers have special features for handling beats.

  • First, you may be able to import (load) audio files in formats that contain both the audio itself and tempo information or “markers” that show where the drum hits are located. The three most popular formats are Apple Loops, REX files (which usually have the file extension .RX2 tacked onto their name), and Acidized WAV. After loading the file, you should be able to speed up or slow down the tempo of your host sequencer and have the beat synchronize with the tempo.


  • Second, your sampler may have editing features with which you can slice up a recorded beat. You may be able to put markers on the individual hits within the beat, then slice up the sample at the markers and assign the sound within each slice to a separate MIDI key. Some samplers will then export the timing information on the beat as a MIDI clip: When you drag it into a sequencer track, the sequencer can trigger the sliced-up notes in the beat one at a time. This makes the beat almost completely plastic: You can add drum fills, substitute a new snare sound for the old one, and much more.

Phew, and everything has been completed setting up, you can now reward yourself a delicious chia nuts ice-cream (made by the best ice cream maker) and enjoy the music.


The great advantage of sampling is that you can play the actual sound of another instrument–not a synthesized trumpet tone, for instance, but the sound of a real trumpet. The sounds of acoustic instruments are full of subtle details that listeners recognize and appreciate.

The disadvantage of sampling is that these details will sound exactly the same each time the sample is played. Musicians who play acoustic instruments are constantly varying their technique, either consciously or intuitively, to produce expressive musical phrases. As a result, a sampler can easily sound great when playing a single note but stiff and artificial when playing a whole phrase. By using such techniques as multiple articulations (different samples that play back depending on velocity, or can be switched by pressing a pre-assigned key, button, or other controller) and “round-robin” programming (alternating through similar but non-identical samples of the same note to avoid a robotic, “machinegun” sound), the software engineers who design samplers have made real progress in getting around this problem, but it’s still an issue.

Synthesizers are good at emulating some types of acoustic instruments, but not so good at others. For instance, the FM synthesis technique that the Yamaha DX7 made widely popular in the ’80s can make decent electric piano and marimba sounds, but it’s not so great for bowed strings.

In recent years, synthesis methods using a technique called physical modeling have made strides in producing the sonic details heard in acoustic instruments, but physical modeling software has other limitations. Physical modeling uses lots of your computer’s CPU resources (playing samples requires much less computer power), and only the most popular instruments, such as brass, electric piano, and various classic analog synthesizers, have been modeled. Developing a physical model requires serious expertise, but anyone who has a microphone can record and play a sample! With a sampler, you can turn the pots and pans in your kitchen into a percussion kit.

In sum, a sampler isn’t the right solution for every musical problem, but samplers are an absolutely essential tool in most computer musicians’ kits.


  • CPU: The central, processing unit in a computer or digital audio device is the main chip that performs tons of calculations each second in order to make sounds.
  • Key zone: A range of keys on a MIDI keyboard. Typically, a single sample in a multi-sample is assigned to a key zone for playback.
  • Plug-in: A piece of software–either an instrument or an effects processor–that operates within a host program, such as a digital, audio workstation (DAW). The settings of the plug-in are normally stored with the DAW’s song file, so all of your sounds will be automatically loaded at the start of each work session.
Production Music Contracts

Production Music Contracts

Even if you donat know what production music is, you are no doubt heard it in a movie cue, TV commercial, radio broadcast, or elsewhere. When producers for film, TV, radio, the Internet, or any other media outlet need inexpensive, pre-existing, original music for their productions, they often use production music. The same piece of music might be licensed for nonexclusive use to severalaor even hundredsamore producers for different projects and media, thereby creating a recurring stream of revenue for the content owner.

Some musicians create and own their own libraries of production music (organized according to genre, application, mood, or other criteria), but producing content for an established company can result in a greater number of licensing opportunities. If aproduction-music company offers you this kind of gig, you will be expected to compose, record, and possibly mix a specific number of songs or ad spots, with or without vocals, in a certain genre (such as pop, country, or jazz). In return, youall be paid a flat fee and possibly limited royalties in a work-for-hire arrangement. In this situation, the company that employs youaor, more typically, subcontracts your workais considered the sole author, publisher, and copyright owner of the compositions and sound recordings you produce for it.


  • This article will detail some of the terms you might be offered in a production-music contract and how to recognize and avoid signing a nightmarish deal. Some contracts are fair and equitable to both parties. But if youare not careful, signing a bad contractaone tilted heavily in the production-music companyas favoracan cost you more money than you earn and expose you to potentially devastating legal liabilities.
  • I am not an attorney. But by using the information in this article, youall be able to spot and hopefully renegotiate any risky or predatory clauses before you refer the contract to a costly attorney for review. If the production-music company wonat bend on terms you absolutely canat accept, you can walk away without having spent a dime on attorneyas fees.


Most production-music contracts stipulate an all-in arrangement. In this type of agreement, the company pays you a flat feeausually in installments as specific phases of your work are completedato use both as a recording fund and for your personal compensation. You must agree to be responsible for all costs incurred in completing the productions. These may include hiring a studio, engineer, and musicians; travel expenses; blank media; and all bills for phone calls, shipping, and postage necessary to carry out your work.


The costs of paying other people to contribute their talents to your productions can easily exceed the flat fee you earn, so the all-in agreement makes the most sense for composers who can play all the music themselves and record and mix all the tracks in a home studio. Although some production-music contracts also pay royalties to the composer, they may not amount to much if the music is rarely licensed. The balance of any flat fee you havenat spent on production may be the only significant money you ever see for your hard labor.

To ensure that youall make a profit, itas imperative that you work up a detailed budget for your productions and compare it to your flat fee before you sign any agreement. You should also divide your estimated profit by how many hours it will take for you to do the work. If the resulting hourly wage is less money than you can make doing other kinds of work (for example, hiring your studio out or playing gigs) and your schedule typically stays busy, you may not want to accept the production-music work unless the flat fee can be negotiated higher or there are additional incentives such as royalties offered.

In negotiating your contract, you should always ask to receive 100 percent of the writeras share of performance royalties associated with licensing your work. (The writeras share is typically 50 percent of the total performance royalties earned; the remaining 50 percent is the publisheras share, which the production-music company typically receives.) The contract should specify that youall be paid your performance royalties directly by whichever performing rights organization (PRO) you belong to (BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC in the U.S.).

Make sure the contract states that youall get paid royalties quarterly (four times per year) and grants you audit rights. Some companies insist on paying you only twice a year so they can earn interest on your money while it sits in their bank account for an additional three months. And without the right to audit the companyas books, youall have no way of finding out whether youare being paid everything that is owed to you.

Performance royalties usually wonat amount to much unless your music is placed in either a TV series or a movie that is played in foreign theaters. (Movies played in theaters in the U.S. donat earn performance royalties.) Performance royalties for TV ads are usually negligible; youall probably earn only tens or hundreds of dollars from licensing one albumas worth of music during the course of one or more years. But once in a blue moon, your music might be used in an application where significant performance royalties are earned, and you should get your fair share.


Performance royalties are important, but the majority of revenue is earned from synchronization fees. A sync fee is money paid by a producer for the right to synchronize music to, for example, a motion picture for theatrical release, a video in a commercial TV ad, or images and animation in a videogame.

Sync fees can be very lucrative. The sync fee for typical production music included in a 30-second Ford commercial on TV would likely be around $10,000; a longer ad might pay more than twice that amount. The sync fee for a major motion picture could bring in tens of thousands of dollars. You should try to negotiate a share for yourself of any synchronization fees your music earns. Think how exploited youall feel if your music ends up in a major movie in domestic release and all you earned was a modest wage from your flat fee. Meanwhile, the production-music company will be rolling in it. They know the value of sync fees and will likely resist giving you a share of this most important revenue source.


Another way in which a production-music company might try to shortchange you is by directly licensing the performance rights normally granted by your PRO. This is not an inherently devious arrangementasome producers insist on procuring a direct licenseabut it can be worked to your disadvantage. When a company grants performance rights directly to a producer, it typically adds any performing rights fee to the sync fee to arrive at one lump-sum fee. The component parts of the lump-sum fee (including your performance royalties) may not be separately delineated. In this case, your contract with the production-a”music company will probably set forth a formula calculating what percentage of the total fee is assigned to your performance royalties. Guess who the formula favors?

If the contract disallows your earning any portion of the sync fee, the production-music company will try to formulate your performance royalties to be the smallest percentage of the total direct-licensing fee it can get away with. That way, it gets to keep the lionas share of the direct-licensing fee and you get paid only a tiny one-time payment instead of recurring performance royalties (which you would have received had you licensed the work through a PRO). Whatas more, by agreeing to be paid such a small share of direct-license fees, you incentivize the production-music company to bypass your PRO as often as possible.

Of course, not all direct-licensing arrangements work this way. Sometimes a separate fee may be collected by the production-music company for the granting of performance rights. In this case, the company may try to deduct an administration fee off the top before paying you your share (the writeras share) of the proceeds. This is absurd. Itas a publisheras job to administer copyrights, and itas a presupposed service they should provide to you in return for your surrendering to them the publishing income earned from your music. Imposing an additional administration fee is an attempt to get paid twice for the same service. Fight to have any such fees removed from your contract.


Production-music companies have no way of knowing whether the compositions they pay you to create are original and donat infringe on someone elseas copyright. For this reason, they usually include legal safeguards to protect themselves should an infringement suit be brought against them. The problem is, this portion of the contract usually makes you assume any and all legal liabilities, whether deserved or not.

For example, the contract may stipulate that “you indemnify the company for all litigation costs, attorneyas fees, and any other unspecified damages, loss, or expense arising from any breach or alleged breach of representations or warranties made herein by you.” Your warranties might include statements that your compositions are original and that all musicians you hired to play on your productions were contracted for in a buyout arrangement and arenat owed any royalties.

One problem with the foregoing indemnity clause is that anyone can falsely allege that your compositions infringed their copyright, and youall be completely on the hook for all legal fees the production-music company spends defending its own copyrights in your musicaeven if the case is dismissed for being frivolous. To protect yourself, you must insist that any breach by you has been reduced to a final adverse judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction (not by the local traffic court!) or has been settled with your written consent. Fight any clause in your contract that permits the production-music company to settle the lawsuit without your approval and makes you pay for all legal expenses. Such a clause would, in effect, allow the company to use your bank account to make a nuisance suit go away. The bottom line is that it is a publisheras duty to defend its copyrights. The burden shouldnat fall on you unless you are at fault (you did actually steal someone elseas song) or you still own part of the copyright and are earning a portion of the publishing income (in which case, legal expenses should be shared by you and the production-a”music company).

The production-music company may successfully sue another person or company for unlawfully copying your melody or lyrics covered in your work-for-hire agreement. In this case, you should share in any net proceeds recovered in the suit, after first deducting the production-music companyas legal fees and expenses. Beware of language in your contract that unfairly attempts to assign all net proceeds exclusively to the production-music company. Had your melody and lyrics been lawfully licensed to the defendant, you surely would have made money. Itas only fair, therefore, that you share in any proceeds recovered through the suit, even if your cut is just a small portion of the total.

No matter the terms of your contract, you should strongly consider forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) before doingproduction-music work. Having an LLC will protect your home and personal belongings from any adverse judgment rendered against you in a lawsuit. If the damages are high enough, you can still lose all business assets you own, including your studio equipment. But at least youall still have a roof over your head.


The production-music market is saturated. Many companiesaand many thousands of compositionsanow compete for the same licensing opportunities. As a result, the majority of music ends up never being licensed, or licensed for peanuts. Back-end payments (royalties and sync fees) may not amount to much, so you should make sure any advance you are offered is substantial enough to make all your work worthwhile.

Weigh the risks against the benefits of signing. If you feel like youare going to have to take a shower after signing, walk away.

Thanks to the Internet, the power to market and distribute production music is no longer the exclusive domain of major companies. If you donat like the deal being offered you, roll your own.

Contributing editor Michael Cooper thanks Andrew Keresztes, Craig Sharmat, Mike Levine, and Ted Greenwald for their helpful information.

Arts/music in production

Network: ABC Prod off: Sydney Prod co: ABC Television Exec Prod: Sophia Zachariou Prod mgr: Cathrine McVeigh Prod coord: Patricia Downie Format: 26 min x 30 Shoot From: 13/2/2008 Shoot To: 3/12/2008 Description: Weekly review of big screen releases. Interviews and profiles of cinema players and industry, presented by Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton.

Channel [V]’s whatUwant

Pay Channel: Channel [V] Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Dir: Bernie Zelvis Prod: Sally King Prod mgr: Susie Cocks Format: 200 x 60 minutes Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Channel [V]’s flagship show, featuring all the hits, artists, performances and audience requests.

Eclipse Music TV

Network: Seven Prod co: Smart Entertainment Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Features the Eclipse Top five hits, breaking videos, classic clips, interviews and album reviews.


Pay Channel: Arena TV Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Prod: Kathryn Eisman, Melissa Wilson Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Entertainment news program which takes a look at the hottest news and gossip in music, movies and television. Broadcast daily at 8.25pm, 5 days a week.

Good Game

Network: ABC-Digital Prod off: Sydney Prod co: ABC TV Exec Prod: Kath Earle Script: Maurice Branscombe Prod mgr: Leah Abernethy Editor: David Langlands. Tristan Parker Prod des: Louise Rooney Dist: ABC2, ABC TV Format: 28 min ep Shoot From: 11/2/2008 Shoot To: 28/11/2008 Description: Good game is the show for gamers by gamers dedicated to providing an intelligent and entertaining analysis of the game scene in Australia and around the world Hosted by Jeremy ‘Junglist’ Ray and Steven’ Bajo ‘O’ Donnell.

Leo Schofield in conversation

Pay Channel: Ovation Prod off: Sydney Exec Prod: Michelle Hanna Format: 20 x 30 mins Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Interviews with local and international classical arts personalities.

Max Reccomends with Chit Chat

Pay Channel: MAX Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZ Networks Exec Prod: Angela Beal Prod: Wade Goring Prod mgr: Susie Cocks Format: 1 x 1 hour per week Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Join Chit Chat as he talks you through all the music that we reckon you should be listening to

MAX: Max Masters

Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Exec Prod: Angela Beal Prod mgr: Susie Cocks Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Celebrate your favourite artist with one month of dedicated programming, Tune in for interviews, live performances and morel Previous MAX Masters have included INXS and Kasey Chambers.

MAX: My Top 11

Pay Channel: MAX Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Exec Prod: Angela Beal Prod mgr: Susie Cocks Format: 1 x 1 hr pw Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Your top 10 is just that, your chance to pick your favourite 10 songs and tell us why

MAX: The Know

Pay Channel: MAX Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Exec Prod: Angela Beal Prod: Olivia Hoopmann Prod mgr: Suise Cocks Format 3 x 30 mins pw Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: The Know gives you all the information you need on what’s happening in the world of music and entertainment with a 30 minute wrap up of what’s hot and what’s not.

MAX: The Sessions

Pay Channel: MAX Prod off: Sydney Prod co: XYZnetworks Pty Ltd Exec Prod: Angela Beal Prod mgr. Susie Cocks Format 2 x 60 mins pw Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: This year we’ve searched far and wide to bring you series II of the sessions, bringing you amazing music and musicians exclusive to Max. Enjoy the experience and live the music with Series of the sessions.

Playlist Weekly, The

Pay Channel: Showtime Prod off: Sydney Prod co: Premium Movie Partnership, The Exec Prod: Lisa Neal Script: Lisa Neal, Nell Schofield, Peter Thompson, James Valentine, Andrew Warne Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: So much to watch, so little time The Playlist helps you make a better viewing choice. Andrew Warne, James Valentine, Peter Thormpson and Nell Schofield talk entertainment, to get you in front of more of the stuff worth watching.


Network: ABC Prod off: Sydney Exec Prod: Kath Earle prod: Alex Morrow Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: A weeklymusic program that has been a favourite since 1987!

Schlocky Horrow Picture Show

Network: TVS Prod off: Sydney Prod co: Bamard’s Star Productions Exec Prod: Graham Garfield Bamard, Tim Newsom Dist: Barnard’s Star Productions Format: 26 x 90 mins Gauge: Mini DV Shoot From: 1/2/2008 Shoot To: 1/8/2008 Description: Host Nigel Honeybone presents the golden years of Hollywood’s B-Grade horror movies every Friday night on Sydney’s TVS (UHF 31) Each week Nigel shares with us his vast knowledge of the genre, punctuated with hundreds of related photos (and a little sarcasm).

See You Next Wednesday

Network: TVS Prod off: Sydney Prod Co: Barnard’s Star Productions Exec Prod: Graham Garfield Barnard, Tim News Dir: Ryan Cauchi Dist: Bamard’s Star Productions Format: 26 x 90 mins Gauge: Mini DV Shoot From: 1/2/2008 Shoot To: 1/8/2008 Description: Host Nick Stathopoulos presents the gloden years of Hollywood every Wednesday night on Sydney’s TVS (UHF 31) Each week Nick shares with us his vast knowledge of the genre, punctuated with hundreds of related photos (and a little sarcasm).


Prof off: Sydney Prod co: Sky News Australia Prod: Georgia Hawkins, Natalie Murray Format: 3 min x 4 per day Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Daily showbiz, entertainment and fashion news.

Sunday Arts

Network: ABC Prod off: Sydney & Melbourne Prod co: ABC Exec Prod: Anna Bateman Prod mgr; Christine Lipari Format: 56’30 Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Sunday Arts offers a new way of seeing and experiencing art and culture, searching out exciting contemporary work and presenting fresh perspectives on the traditional to engage artists and arts audiences alike.

The Lair

Pay Channel: Fox8, MTV Australia Prod off: Sydney Prod co: MTV networks Australia Exec Prod: Ean Thorely Dir: Jakub Jacko Prod: Dan Mansour Prod mgr: Emma Smith Fin: MTV Networks Australia Dist: MTV Networks Australia Format: 1 hour Shoot From: 26/1/2008 Shoot To: 7/8/2008 Description: The Lair is a weekly 1 hour music show, leaturing bands ranging from the biggest international bands, to unsigned local acts.

Triple J Tv

Network: ABC Prod co: ABC Exec Prod: Kath Earle Prod: Stamatia Maroupas Prod mgr: Gannon Conroy Format: 30′ shoot From: 11/2/2008 Shoot To: 24/11/2008 Description: triple j tv gives you an inside peek at what you don’t catch on the radio. Hosted each week by a rotating cast of triple j presenters, the show sees a return of some of their most popular segments including Like A Version and ‘Prime Cuts’. Also Ronan Sharkey makes the leap form radio to television to become the new face of ‘Hack’ and there’ll be heaps of artist interviews plus all the behind the scenes goes from around the radio station.

Triple J Tv Presents

Network: ABC Prod co: ABC Exec Prod: Kath Earle Prod mgr: Gannon Conroy Format: 60 min Shoot From: 14/1/2008 shoot To: 24/1/2008 Description: triple j tv presents brings you a year-long series of more than 40 gigs-filmed exclusively by triple j tv-straight to your telly. Bags your front-row seats to some of the hottest gigs in the country, including Spoon, Bloc Party, Gotye, Operator Please, Angus and Julia Stone and the Kaiser Chiefs plus loads more.

Triple J Tv Vodcast

Network: ABC Prod co: ABC Exec Prod: Kath Earle prod: Stamatia Maroupas Prod mgr: Gannon Conrpy format: 30 min Shoot From: 14/1/2008 Shoot To: 25/11/2008 Description: Every week triple j tv makes a a program especially for vodcasting. You can download, play and keep the program on your computer or portable device Subscnbe (for free) each week or pick and choose the episodes you want. The program features all the best bits of triple j tv including segments such as ‘Like A Version,’ ‘Prime Cuts’ and the return of ‘Hack’

triple j tv with The Doctor

Network: ABC Prod co: ABC Exec Prod: Kath Earle Prod mgr: Gannon Conroy Format: 60 min Shoot From: 14/1/2008 Shoot To: 29/11/2008 Description: triple j tv with The Doctor features interviews, comedy segments. gaming, movies, competitoions, live music, animations plus all the hottest new video clips The Doctor’s mates from radio will also be dropping in for a chat.

Tuesday Night With Nell Schofield

Pay Channel: showtime Prod off: Sydney Prod co: Premum Movie Partnership. The Prod: Nicole Coventry Script: Nell Schofield Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Weekly presentation and review of Showtime’s critically acclaimed and arthouse films.

Video Hits

Network: Ten Prod off: Sydney Exec Prod: Rachel Moor Prod: Ben Fletcher, Blayke Holfman Editor: Karen Atchison Format: 120 min Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Weekly Music program featuring popular and new music from all genres, plus co-hosts and comps.

Video Hits First

Network: Ten Prod off: Sydney Prod co: Ten Exec Prod: Rachel Moor Prod: Ben fletcher, Blayke Hoffman Editor: Karen Atchison Format: 90 mins Shoot From: 1/1/2008 Shoot To: 31/12/2008 Description: Weekly Music Program featuring the Top 10 and new music from all geners, plus cohosts and comps.



Long hair, shaggy beards and flip-flops don’t jibe with the image of a top executive at a major music label. Neither do A Bathing Ape hoodies and diamond tooth grilles. But the corporate offices of Big Music are looking less corporate by the day. Industry insiders say the mini-makeover is a step in the right direction.

  • This month’s appointment of Grammy-winning music producer Jermaine Dupri as president of Island Def Jam’s new urban division is just the latest example of an emerging record company trend: putting more hot music makers into positions of real executive power.
  • Universal Music Group, owner of Island Def Jam, was also the company that began the movement to bring more creative types into the executive suite: It named rapper/producer Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter chief executive of Def Jam Recordings a little over two years ago.
  • The trend continued when RCA Music Group hired TVT Records hitmaker Bryan Leach as senior vice president of urban music. Rumors broke last week that Columbia Records is negotiating to sign hirsute berproducer Rick Rubin as CEO.


“It’s no accident that labels are hiring producers,” says Aram Sinnreich, co-founder of media analyst Radar Research in Los Angeles. “These guys have the sense to stay on top of market changes and make music to deliver sales.”

People with golden ears like Mr. Dupri’s or Mr. Rubin’s, once a de rigueur asset among top industry players, have become rare commodities in the business. It shows.

Overall album sales in 2006 were down 1.2%, to 646.4 million units, compared with 2005’s 654.1 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan–despite a dramatic rise in legal digital downloads. Analysts predict that the market will weaken further this year.

Seeking steady flow of hits


Big music conglomerates are focused on finding more ways to make money with digital platforms. Meanwhile, talks of a merger between Warner Music Group and troubled music giant EMI are creating some buzz on Wall Street. But label executives now realize that the upside from digital sales and consolidations can stretch only so far without a steady flow of hits.

Because of that growing awareness, they’re giving young creative types like Messrs. Dupri and Carter increasing control.

“You’ve definitely gotta hire someone who’s going to bring a little more content to what people are doing nowadays, because if you don’t, you’re going to be pushed out of the race,” says the 34-year-old, diamond-decked Mr. Dupri, who was president of Virgin’s urban music division until he quit in October.

Of course, artists and producers aren’t always as talented on the operations side. To function best, they need to be paired with individuals who have more management experience.

“Creativity and parsing the bottom line are often mutually exclusive skills,” says Brian Garrity, senior business correspondent at Billboard. “You need to match [the creative types] with the right people.”

In the past two decades, the tables turned too far in favor of the bean counters. The recent movement to balance operations executives with peers who have musical chops is long overdue.

“You never see these executives out in the streets or clubs where they can find new talent,” says Mr. Dupri. “They can’t say that about me.”

Return to roots


The move to give music makers more power represents a return to the industry’s roots. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, was a producer and A&R man first. Jimmy Iovine, founder and CEO of Interscope, is still an active rock music producer, while Antonio “L.A.” Reid–CEO of Island Def Jam, and Mr. Dupri’s new boss–started out as a drummer, producer and songwriter.

As the season for executive musical chairs continues at the major labels, industry observers aren’t ruling out more appointments like Mr. Dupri’s. Hip-hop producers, in particular, are maturing and coming into their own as executives.

“These moves will definitely be happening,” says Rob Stone, president of Cornerstone, a promotion company that works closely with major music labels. “There’s so much entrepreneurship in urban music, it only makes sense to take that to the next level.”

U Music lays down big Latin beat

U Music lays down big Latin beat


Universal Music Group’s Latin division signed a joint-venture agreement with Gustavo Santaolalla, a known Latinmusic producer. The deal will pave the way for Universal Music to expand its market into Latin America.

Full Text: 


HOLLYWOOD When Gustavo Santaolalla entered into a joint-venture agreement with Universal Music Group’s Latin arm to launch a record label, it marked the culmination of a years-long relationship between the conglom and the noted Latin music producer.

Since 1995, Santaolalla had been advising Universal Latin on its planned foray into the burgeoning Latin music universe.

But before he could pact with the company, Universal first had to establish an infrastructure south of the border and tap a savvy exec who would advance the company’s interests in the region.

Santaolalla was offered a deal with a rival conglom during this period, but turned it down. “Universal was in tune with my vision for a ground-breaking, adventurous record company,” Santaolalla tells Variety. “They were truly interested in the phenomenon of the music I was involved with so I decided to wait.”

He credits Universal Music Group prexy Zach Horowitz, with whom he had worked closely during the past several years, with sharing that vision and making the pact “one that I was interested in accepting.”

The inking of Santaolalla and the launching of Surco Records signals a significant push into the Latin music marketplace by Universal.


The pact also follows Universal Latin establishing outposts in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil and the hiring of industry pioneer Jesus Lopez, who is credited with recognizing the importance of having one exec oversee both the U.S. and Mexican markets, a post he held while with BMG. Lopez was named prexy of Universal Latin in 1996. Universal will also bow outposts in Colombia and Chile at the end of this year.

Santaolalla, who is considered by many in the industry to be one of the genre’s top talent developers, will be charged with complementing Universal’s foray into the Latin music industry with artists signings and by producing acts.

In addition to being a magnet for talent, Santaolalla will also work closely with Lopez in the latter’s efforts to make the growing arm a major player in the genre.

Lopez has already been instrumental in landing a number of key pacts with Latin music providers such as Melody and Discos Rocio in order to give the new arm a running start by having catalog releases to distribute to supplement its raft of current repertoire.

“The timing is right for us to be involved in Latin music,” Lopez says. “Latin America is exploding as a (marketplace) and as a result of the growing international audience for all types of Latin music. There is also a tremendous audience in the United States which we will reach (through Surco’s) album releases and other strategic partnerships.”

Surco has also bowed an electronic music offshoot, dubbed Surco 01, to take advantage of the growing genre both Stateside and internationally.


The music industry as a whole has been beefing up its Latin music presence in the past two years after recognizing the tremendous upside of the genre and the buying power of not only Hispanic but Anglo consumers, who’ve recently tuned in to the music and its many subgenres such as rock en espanol, salsa and Tejano, among others.

“Music transcends all borders and languages, and Surco will give me an opportunity to continue to develop and work with artists with global appeal,” says Santaolalla, whose credits also include producing with partner Anibal Kerpel the critically acclaimed rock en espanol band Maldita Vecindad, whose “El Circo” is the genre’s all-time bestseller in Mexico.

Santaolalla has also worked the boards on such genre big-guns as Cafe Tacuba, Caifanes and Divididos, among others.

The first release from Surco will be controversial rock group Molotov. The band’s notoriety comes from its lyrical attacks on Mexico’s ruling party and its controversial album cover art, which has recently been banned in several retail chains due to its racy depiction of a teenage student.

A darling of MTV Latino, Molotov has also developed a Stateside following and its tracks can frequently be heard on college radio.

The band is also featured on the Geffen Records soundtrack to the Fox Searchlight pic “Star Maps.”

A Billboard guide to ad agency music supervisors

A Billboard guide to ad agency music supervisors

“From a branding perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in music.”

Michael Gross, music supervisor for Los Angeles ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, knows of what he speaks, having helped his agency build entire campaigns around songs–rather than the far more common reverse route, where a song is licensed, or synched, to match existing creative. In 2012 alone, TBWA has used songs from acts like Skrillex, Bon Iver, Foo Fighters and Adele for a series of original, computer-animated spots for this year’s Grammy Awards and paired folk-pop singer Meiko with Crate & Barrel for the retailer’s biggest campaign in years. Now, the musicians themselves are reaching out to be his latest client. “We’ve been approached by certain artists to develop campaigns around upcoming releases and anniversaries,” he says.

That music licensing has gone way beyond the synch for advertisers should come as no surprise. At a time when brands are enhancing their relationships with artists at all levels–from endorsement deals (P!nk, Taylor Swift and Janelle Monae are all the latest faces of CoverGirl, Nicki Minaj reps Pepsi, even Lil Wayne has a deal with Mountain Dew) to tour sponsorships (Lipton Tea and Lady Antebellum, Schick Hydro and the Band Perry, Acura and Metric) to creative partnerships (Coca-Cola and’s eko-C, Coty Fragrances and Lady Gaga’s Fame)–the desire for marketers to play a more sustainable role in the careers of artists is at an all-time high. And synch revenue is also at an all-time peak, with artist earnings from commercial synchronization up 5.7% in 2011 to $342 million, accounting for 2% of global recorded-music revenue, according to IFPI’s 2012 Digital Music Report.


For further evidence, look at the Billboard Hot 100, where many of the year’s biggest hits have all been aided by exposure from a commercial synch. From fun.’s “We Are Young” (a high-profile Chevrolet Super Bowl spot) to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” (a 2011 Toyota Camry commercial that picked up airtime in early 2012) to Neon Trees’ “Everybody Talks” (Buick) to a pair of Microsoft ads that effectively launched the careers of the Lumineers (Bing, “Ho Hey”) and Alex Clare (Internet Explorer 9, “Too Close”), advertising is rivaling radio in its effectiveness and ability to break a song. Is it any wonder that Alicia Keys was featured in not one, but two different commercials featuring her new single “Girl on Fire” during the MTV Video Music Awards to help boost awareness (and first-week sales) of the Minaj-assisted track?

So if advertising is the new radio, ad agency music supervisors are the new DJs. Herewith, Billboard’s guide to the players and perspectives guiding many of the biggest music-related ads right now.

Michael Gross



You don’t find Skrillex, Adele, Bon Iver or Foo Fighters licensing their music–let alone likenesses–to hardly anyone these days. Yet that’s just one of the feats Michael Gross and the creative team at Los Angeles’ TBWA/Chiat/Day managed to pull off this year, incorporating those four artists’ songs (all gratis donations from the nominees) into a visual effects-heavy branding campaign for this year’s Grammys.

But for Gross, a pop-up event that he and his team put together near the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles had even greater impact, and pointed to a future of creating content around brands. Three acts–Anthony Hamilton, Meiko and Class Actress–sang the tweets that a Grammy installation encouraged people to send using a custom hashtag.

“To me, that was more effective than a TV ad,” Gross says. “I saw the future in how we integrate brands and artists and music with that event. We’re bringing something like that to bigger clients like Pepsi and Nissan.”

It’s also helped Gross develop an approach to synch licensing that’s antithetical to the rising trend. “It’s not really about using the latest hit from the latest artist–I kind of abhor that,” he says. “I’m doing music searches right now ranging from early-20th-century piano musk and mid-century big band stuff to remixes of new songs to international songs to big anthems.”


Gross recently brought in noncommercial KCRW Los Angeles’ Tom Schnabel, who started the highly influential “Morning Becomes Eclectic” in the ’70s, to serve as an in-house musicologist of sorts to help vet ideas and spark creativity. “I’ve been very fortunate to become friends with him–he teaches these music salons at his house. If there’s a way to get people out of doing things that are comfortable to them, Tom will find it,” he says.

And given his relative proximity to Hollywood (TBWA’s offices are close to the beach in Marina del Rey), Gross can’t help but cite Quentin Tarantino as his greatest influence in music supervision. “‘Pulp Fiction’ was such an iconic soundtrack–pulling songs out of the ether unexpected and then making them relevant again. He inspired me to put Bo Diddley in a Nissan commercial, an obscure Elvis track on another campaign. You can just see his legendary impact everywhere.”

Colin Jeffery


David & Goliath

How did LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” become 2011’s most ubiquitous single? With a little help from some dancing hamsters.

The Kia Soul’s furry spoke-animals breakdanced their way into key events like MTV’s Video Music Awards and other highly visible TV events to help cement the song’s status as one of last year’s biggest hits, while the song gave Kia Soul its leading status in the “boxy car” category in the process. This year’s VMAs marked the return of the hamsters, featuring a different kind of EDM anthem: an exclusive Axwell remix of Ivan Gough & Feenixpaul’s “In My Mind” that notched a 224% sales spike from 2,000 to 7,000 copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan) in the week following its prominent VMAs airtime.

Who’s behind the music? Colin Jeffery, executive creative director at Los Angeles ad agency David & Goliath, who doubles as de facto music supervisor on the Kia account. Having introduced a music strategy for Kia Soul with a 2009 campaign that featured Calvin Harris, Black Sheep, Goldfish, Marz and Potbelleez, Jeffery has since seen the combined power of using new and familiar songs with hamsters increase exponentially.

“Music is a brand pillar for us at this point,” Jeffery says. “We like to use songs that are in tune with what’s going on out there and can read trends and can use music to strengthen our messaging. It means being tapped into trends and culture and having a good idea of who you’re talking to with a specific vehicle and specific product, but there’s no formula to this.”


The hamsters, then, give Kia permission to be a cultural outsider of sorts. “We don’t want to seem to be too cool.” Jeffery says. “Obviously a furry hamster is never going to be a badass. It’s all about trends, from LMFAO to where we are now with Ivan Gough, and the hamsters are Dis, which has gone along with the rise of real EDM in terms of mainstream acceptance over the past year. We really wanted to celebrate a different style of music.”

Jeffery and his team have also been able to extend those relationships beyond synchs to music video sponsorships with LMFAO and Gough and even tour support. It’s part of the two-way street that Jeffery hopes to see more of in working with the music industry.

“It’s more important now for the labels to have savvy marketers onboard,” he says “You don’t want a great track on a shitty piece of creative–it hurts the act, Make sure you have people around you who can see the right opportunities.”

Steve Stoute



The first music heard during this year’s Super Bowl was a familiar, if disembodied, note: the twinkling piano of Kanye West’s “Runaway,” introducing a spot from Bud Light Platinum–the first of several commercials with iconic music sourced for Anheuser-Busch by Translation, an ad agency co-founded by music veteran Steve Stoute and Jay-Z. This year’s game also featured a Budweiser commercial that mashed up the Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary” with Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and a Bud Light Lime spot that made prominent use of an exclusive Swizz Beatz remix of Will Smith’s “Summertime.”

Then there’s the Summer Olympics, where Jay-Z debuted his first commercial as spokesman for Duracell with his 2009 hit “Run This Town” as the soundtrack, another campaign (and deal) Translation helped spearhead. And just last month, the NFL kicked off its 2012 season with an original promo featuring Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” a rare synch for the music legend that helps illustrate a montage of fans’ own football superstitions.

“We always try to use music that cuts through, that accentuates the point,” Stoute says, noting that music is often a second or third step in a campaign’s process. “We don’t build an idea around a song, but we definitely try to find the right song to help craft our intent and push forth that idea.”

And for the guy who helped pair Justin Timberlake with McDonald’s and Chris Brown with Wrigley for original pop songs-cum-jingles, the conversation on commercials with artists hasn’t been about “selling out” in a long time, Stoute says. “It’s the ‘let me see what the work looks like’ perspective-more of a creative discussion.”

Though Translation’s work has been largely hip-hop-focused in 2012, don’t be surprised if the agency’s work hits the dance-floor in 2013. “I’m seeing a lot of brands ask questions and are very curious around EDM,” Stoute says. “‘Is it appropriate? Is it here to stay and what does that mean?’ I’ve heard before that EDM is the new hip-hop, and as far as curiosity is concerned it is seeming that way.”

Lauren King


Mother NY

Last fall, Method Man released his first new single in years-only not in support of a new album, but as part of a viral ad campaign for Sour Patch Kids, the mischievous candies recently acquired by Kraft Foods. The song, “World Gone Sour,” and its accompanying music video were the result of an exhaustive search for the right rapper who could best embody the naughty-but-nice vibe the candy brand and its agency Mother NY had been seeking.

“We talked to Wiz Khalifa, Cam’ron, Gucci Mane, Young Jock–he was actually cleaner than what they wanted,” King recalls. Ultimately, they opted for the Wu-Tang Clan rapper who’s lately carved out a niche for himself (in hismovies with Redman, anyway) for being high–something the trippy video for “World Gone Sour” practically requires. “They wanted to go for it, and Method Man just did an amazing job. The song was very catchy, it was completely on point, and the client loved it. Everyone wants to use it still.”

It’s that combination of out-there ideas and artist relationships that has helped King work with clients like Stella Artois to create an original band for a 2011 holiday campaign that featured sexy, French-inspired ’60s jazz takes on Christmas songs, as well as corral an all-star lineup of musicians (Coldplay’s Chris Martin, fun.’s Nate Ruess and Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, to name a few) for an original Roots-produced jingle in a spring public service ad. King credits patience and persistence for allowing her to pull off some of the agency’s biggest talent coups. “It took a crumbling year-and-a-half to finish [the “Reading Is Fundamental” campaign], but we saw kids doing lip-dubs of the song online, talking about reading. I have never been more proud of a project.”

Though Mother still does the odd synch for clients like Virgin and Cablevision’s Optimum cable service, the focus under King has largely been on original compositions–and even taking on bands themselves as clients, as the agency did in 2010 with Devo.

“You can get exactly what you want with the budget you need it for, and it works really well,” King says of custom songs. “There’s some amazing music houses out there–Comma, Tonefarmer, LimeBeat. I now even see music publishing companies forming original music departments where I can say, ‘This needs to be $20,000 and non-union,’ and they do it.”

Rani Vaz


Melissa Chester



BBDO has one of the busiest music departments in the ad industry at the moment, with active campaigns featuring multiple synchs from clients like AT&T, Lowe’s and Diageo all in the marketplace, with an additional Ad Council for Save the Children featuring OneRepublic’s “Feel Again,” a song the agency helped create with front-man Ryan Tedder. But with all the work in the market, there’s one thing that Melissa Chester, the agency’s VP/ executive music producer, won’t touch.

“We’re petrified of sound-alikes,” she says, referencing the practice of emulating the melody or even rewriting the lyrics of a song whose original master was either not approved or too expensive for use. “If you make the phone call and you’re turned down, it’s over. End of story. Sometimes you’ll get, ‘They’re just on tour and we haven’t heard back from them for approval.’ You have to have backups in your pocket all the time.”

Although current music has factored into much of the agency’s work lately, music department head Rani Vaz has found herself dipping back into the catalog for the first time in years. “If you’re able to license something that doesn’t feel like it’s too overexposed, there are some great opportunities out there,” she says. As the days of the $500,000 synch start to dwindle in favor of cheaper, more effective uses of newer songs from upcoming artists, Chester has noticed more flexibility from harder-to-synch artists. “Publishers are coming down, libraries are coming down. I can say, ‘Take it down another $250,000,’ and they usually do it.”

Case in point: Billy Joel, who recently inked a new publishing deal with Rondor and Universal with an expressed goal of scoring synchs to expose his music to a new, younger audience. Having been on the receiving end of many declined requests in the past, Chester is excited about the possibilities.

“There’s a lot you could do there: ‘New York State of Mind,’ ‘Uptown Girl,'” she says. “I look forward to having those conversations.”

Todd Porter


Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

How do you follow the year’s biggest synch? In the case of Todd Porter, music supervisor at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, who made fun.’s “We Are Young” a giant hit when it was featured in a Super Bowl commercial for Chevrolet, you go back to the ’70s.

That’s the approach he took in sourcing music for a new spot announcing Google and Motorola’s post-merger relationship, which puts a modern spin on “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a Paul Williams composition made famous by the Carpenters. “We experimented with a lot of different artists singing it, but eventually went 360 degrees and maybe even 720 and came back to an in-house composer at [music production agency] Search Party. We tried a lot to get it to sound current and curing edge.”

With a client roster that also includes Comcast, Doritos and the Got Milk? campaign, the San Francisco-based Porter actually cites Chipotle, a client of talent agency Creative Artist Agency’s in-house creative advertising group, as his favorite synch of recent memory. The Mexican fast-feeder made dramatic use of Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for a spot that aired during this year’s Grammy Awards, inspiring an outpouring of tweets and likely industry accolades.

“It was kind of a sneaky thing,” Porter says, “a one-off that might have been for an internal company convention or something, but it was so good it had to go outside. Once everyone saw it, I was like, ‘That’s going to win all the [ad] awards this year.’ It was a stroke of genius.”

Not that Porter didn’t receive his own share of praise for “We Are Young,” which earned him thank-yous from some of the most senior board members at Chevrolet as well as that all-important mark of success for an ad agency–consumer brand recognition. “What’s great is that people would call their local radio stations after it aired and would say, ‘I want to hear that song in the Chevy commercial. What is it?’ It’s great that we can associate the brand with up-and-coming music.”

Up next: a focus on original music, with music houses like Marmoset, Black Iris and the aforementioned Search Party at the top of his list. “If you’re telling a story that’s more involved or have a message that’s more subtle, the music needs to take a back seat a little bit,” he says of using original compositions versus synchs. “Or more accurately, step in and really support what your message is. A lot of our work has been more along those lines.”


Who’s who in ever city



Melissa Chester, VP/executive music producer

Dale Henriques, music producer

Loren Parkins, senior VP of executive music/radio producer

Rani Vaz, head of music production


LMFAO, “Sexy & I Know It”: M&M’s Super Bowl commercial One Republic, “Feel Again': Save the Children PSA

Various artists: Lowe’s “Never Stop Improving” campaign


Don McNally, music producer

Zach Pollakoff, music producer

Josh Rabinowitz, senior VP/director of music

Amy Rosen, VP/director of licensing

Ryan Duda, music producer


Girls Love Shoes, “Ooh La La': Pantene P!nk, “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”: CoverGirl Ray Charles, “What’d I Say': NFL


Dan Burt, music producer/supervisor

Paul Greco, director of music and radio

Craig Caniglia, associate music and radio producer


Theresa Notartomasc, music producer


Mike Ladman, music production coordinator

Peter Gannon, senior VP/executive music producer


Stephanie Diaz-Matos, executive music producer

Kaylyn Keane, music licensing supervisor

Jerry Krenach, director of music production

Kate Kubaryk, music production coordinator

Chase Misenheimer, associate music producer

Jean Scofield, music producer

Laura Sigmund, music licensing assistant

Stephen Stallings, assistant music producer

Kate Urcioli, music producer


Lauren King, director of broadcast affairs, music and talent


Method Man, “World Gone Sour”: Sour Patch Kids

Various artists, “Book People Unite”: Reading Is Fundamental


Michael Freeman, music producer

Chris Mazur, music production assistant

Karl Westman, executive music producer


Ryan Fitch, music producer

Eric Korte, VP/music director


Bess Rogers, “The One and Only”: Cheerios

Savoir Adore, “Pop Goes the World”: Tide

Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf (Steve Aoki Remix)”: Trident


Jessica Dierauer, VP of music and creative content Rachel Rauch, assistant music producer


Peter Greco, freelanceproduceratPG2 Music (formerly Y&R)

Mike Boris, freelance music producer (formerly McCann Erickson)



Stump Maheney, music director


Eric Johnson, executive music producer


Gabe McDonough, VP/music director

Chris Clark, senior music producer


Wilco, “I’m Always in Love”: Sprint

Leftover Curies, “Smile Rig”: Samsung

Netsky, “Wanna Die for You”: Samsung Series 9


Marisa Wasser, executive music producer

Morgan Thoryk, music producer

Brandy Ricker, assistant music producer



Jon Moshier, music producer



Todd Porter, music supervisor


The Meemies, “Porch Song”: Google Fun. featuring Janelle Monae, “We Are Young': Chevrolet

Paul Williams, “We’ve Only dust Begun': Google/Motorola



Michael Gross, integrated broadcast producer/music supervisor.


Meiko, “Stuck on You”: Crate & Barrel

Bon Iver, “Holocene”: 2012 Grammy Awards

David Banner, “Evolve”: Gatorade


Jorges Ivan Vargas, music producer Bill Meadows, executive music producer

Research assistance provided by the Assn. of Music Producers.

Ableton Live 7: performance-oriented music production environment

Reality check: You can download a fully-functional demo of Ableton’s much-anticipated Live 7, or even the whole-enchilada Ableton Suite, at the company’s website, as well as several new optional instruments. So, you can decide for yourself if you’re interested-which makes writing a review moot.

Or does it?

Despite Live having been around for several years, it’s still somewhat enigmatic. Some musicians had an immediate affinity with the program, while others couldn’t wrap their heads around it. And its chameleonic nature doesn’t help: Some think it’s a DJ program, some a DAW, some a musical instrument, and so on (hint: They’re all correct). So this is a perfect opportunity to give some subjective impressions about the program’s gestalt, and in the process, explain why I think Live is so incredibly cool.


What makes Live unique is its sprit personality. Its Arrangement view resembles a traditional DAW, with linear tracks, lanes for automation (having individual lanes for each automation parameter is new in Live 7), inserts, aux sends, and the like. But what attracts me the most is the Session view, which is a unique way of organizing “clips” (single-shot files, loops, or even entire songs) for playback that feels much more like a musical instrument than a sequencer.

Session view is a matrix, with columns containing clips, and rows containing groups of clips, which together constitute a “scene.” For example, one scene might have three clips in three columns: a drum loop, a bass loop, and a one-shot of some vocal phrase. Another scene might have the same drum loop but a different bass loop and a rhythmic piano rift. When you trigger a scene, all the clips launch simultaneously, based on what quantization option you choose (e.g., you can trigger the clips at measure boundaries).

The ability to assemble dips into different scenes is important because only one dip in a column can play at a given moment. But this is a strength, not a limitation, because you don’t have to trigger a scene to launch dips. You can launch any dip, at any time, and quantize its launch to the beat. So, suppose one column has nothing but drum dips. You can trigger a scene, and keep all the scene clips grooving along but select different drum dips as the mood strikes you. When you pick a new drum clip, the previous one will keep playing until the next measure (if that’s the launch quantization value you selected), at which point it exits gracefully.

What’s more, tempo isn’t an issue because Live’s audio engine will analyze a clip and stretch it to fit as needed. It can also transpose pitch, but as with other programs, the results usually sound less natural than when stretching rhythm. It does this with more than just short clips: One of Live’s near-magical feats is that you can bring in a long song that wasn’t cut to a click, and most of the time, Live will slice and stretch it so that it locks to tempo. No wonder DJs love this program.

That’s just the basics. As a side note, when Live 6 (reviewed Jan.’07) came out, I met with Ableton’s Gerhard Behles at the Frankfurt Musikmesse trade show. As he described all the new features, I mentioned that I felt kind of silly that I used Live pretty much the same way as I did when it first appeared. He looked at me somewhat quizzically and said, “There’s nothing wrong with that.” True indeed: If you watch 20 different people use Live, they’ll make music in 20 different ways. I’ve seen everything from avant-garde composer George Lewis run Live on two laptops to create sound collages, to DJs “spinning” on it the way others would use Native Instruments Traktor, to Kid Beyond employing it in his human beatbox performances, and I even gigged in Europe with someone who used it solely as a vocal signal processor. Personally, I use it for a solo remix act with live accompaniment–sort of a “performing engineer” thing. There’s no one-sentence description of what Live is.


The three new soft synths–Electric, Tension, and Analog–were designed in collaboration with Applied Acoustics Systems and recall their Lounge Lizard, String Studio VS-1, and Ultra Analog VA-1, respectively. The Ableton instruments cost less, but don’t work with other hosts.

  • Analog is your basic two-oscillator architecture with some novel routing options; I’d put it in the “utilitarian” category rather than the “inspired” one, although I do like the sound quality. You get solid basses, ethereal string synth sounds, and more; scratch below the surface to find goodies like hard sync and filter saturation. If you already have a good virtual analog synth, though, you’ll find no “must-have” factor here.
  • Electric is another matter. If you don’t yet have a virtual electric piano, look no further. Because it uses modeling rather than sampling, there’s much more versatility concerning how you can vary the ton of parameters compared to a sampled electric piano.
  • Tension is another winner, and again uses modeling for a variety of string-like sounds, including basses, guitars, and various ethnic sounds. They’re an interesting combination of real and surreal; the guitars don’t sound exactly like guitars, but to use a visual analogy, they’re like airbrushed guitars with the color saturation bumped up.

Drum Machines is great if you’re into vintage drum machines. The samples are extremely good; while you don’t have the same breadth of sounds as Big Fish Audio’s superb Drums Overkill, you only pay about a third as much. I like it a lot.

The Essential Instrument Collection (EIC) sounds are produced in conjunction with Sonivox, and what’s there adds a lot to Live’s arsenal of sounds. For a really serious instrument, consider spending extra for Muse (reviewed Mar. ’07), Sonivox’s flagship “soft workstation,” or a similar program.

Finally, I’d classify Session Drums as good, but not great. For a little more you can buy, say, Toontrack EZ Drummer, which is more flexible and works with other hosts. On the other hand, Session Drums takes advantage of Live’s Drum Rack feature, so it fits Live like a glove, which makes editing the sounds extremely simple. We’re talking very tight integration.

You may prefer the a la carte approach to adding instruments, but the price for Suite with Live 7, all the above instruments, plus Operator and Sampler (introduced in previous versions), adds about $500 to the Live 7 download price. From a bundle standpoint, that’s a significant amount of instrument power.


Another key Live element is that it encourages improvisation on many levels. In fact, I feel that using Live without a knob/button-laden hardware controller is like driving a Porsche with the parking brake on.

As one example, once you’ve loaded a loop, you can easily move the loop brackets to “flame” a different section of the loop (e.g., the middle two bars of a four-bar loop). Live does this without stuttering, and keeps track of where you “should” be in the full loop so that if you extend the loop all the way back, playback occurs in the right place.

You can easily draw and alter envelopes in real time, and MIDI is handled in a particularly “Live-ly” way: It’s more pattern-based and is optimized more for live performance than DAW-style offline tweaking. This isn’t to say you can’t convert a MIDI pattern into a linear track in the Arrangement page; but that’s something you can with lots of programs. Live’s take on MIDI improvisation is unique. Even its bundled effects beg to be tweaked and altered.


Just as Live 7 came out, I was scheduled to do three “laptop jockey” performances at Winter NAMM. I chose to do a live remix (with overdubbed guitar) of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.”

  • I ripped the CD using Adobe Audition (to be reviewed next month), then brought the file into Live’s Session View so I could derive various loops. Live did its analysis, and marked off the measures–not easy to do, considering how much of the piece is pretty free-form.
  • I moved the loop braces around, finding candidate loops like the classic guitar rift at the beginning, and the ambient, keyboard-soaked sections toward the middle. When I found a passage I liked, I simply invoked “Crop Sample,” and voila, instant loop. I grabbed about 16 “candidate loops” (including one long one, so I could move the loop braces in real time) before deciding to add some loops of my own from my AdrenaLinn Guitars sample CD.
  • I needed some dance-oriented drums, so I called up Simpler and loaded the “Electron Rock” patch. It was close to the sound I wanted; a little tweaking in Simpler did the job. Creating the MIDI pattern to drive Simpler was, well, simple–just draw and erase notes until you’re happy (see Figure 1 on page 57).

As Live now supports REX Files, I brought in a few loops from my Turbulent Filth Monsters sample CD. Live 7 adds amazing slicing abilities, by the way; you can take audio and slice it into little bits, triggered by MIDI. You can also drag these slices into Simpler (or Sampler, of course) for an instant glitchy drum kit. Although I didn’t need to use the slice feature for this particular performance, I mention it because in my opinion, it’s a strong reason to upgrade to Live 7. A strong point of Live in general is the ease of adding effects, so I tossed Redux (a lo-fi decimator) and a Filter Delay in Simpler’s signal path.

Next, I experimented with different clips combinations to create different scenes, then brought in hardware control. Live lets you control parameters from your QWERTY keyboard or a MIDI controller: I tied the keyboard to difference scenes, then used the faders on a Peavey PC-1600X to control the levels for 16 audio channels, and its buttons to solo the channels for doing breakbeats.

The remix was really starting to take shape. I opened up a channel for live guitar input so I could process my guitar playing with Live’s effects. What I really need to emphasize is how much fun this process can be–working with loops, changing stretching characteristics, throwing loops against each other to see what works–there’s nothing quite like it.


Live 7 incorporates several new features other than those mentioned above: It can export videos for which you’ve done soundtracks, let you nudge tempo when free-syncing to other performers, sidechain the Compressor, Gate, and Auto Filter effects, and employ new, high-res modes for the Operator instrument and Dynamic Tube and Saturator effects. The EQ Eight equalizer has been revamped, there’s a spectrum analyzer to check out incoming signals, an improved Compressor effect, and easier integration of external hardware effects–an input/output combination on your audio interface can be made to show up in Live’s plug-in menu. Another new feature, Smart Priming, “unloads” samples that aren’t in use from RAM, which lets you use large sample libraries without maxing out your computer.

That’s all welcome, but Live is about its core concept. The Claim Check (see above left) isn’t kidding; Live truly does “compete with everything and nothing, all at once,” because it can do a lot of what more conventional DAWs can do, but also has unique features that nothing else can touch. I could go on, but you probably get the point: I love this program. While I don’t use it as a DAW, it’s given me a unique, fun way to do live performance, and its DAW features come in very handy when editing. Even though Live 7 still isn’t a full replacement for a more linear DAW, the Keyboard editorial team unanimously agrees it deserves a Key Buy award. Why? There’s still no other software that lets you weave diverse audio and MIDI sources into compositions, remixes, and realtime performances with this degree of immediacy, fluidity, and addictiveness. Check out the demo, and you may fall under Live’s spell as well. It’s brilliant.

Cross-platform audio and MIDI sequencer with groove and live performance emphasis.


Brilliant workflow once you “get” the program. Stable. innovative audio engine. DAW-type elements have evolved over the past few rays. Handles multiple time signatures. Creative slice-oriented features and REX support.

Improved fine tempo control, Several effects support sidechaining. Updated EQ. 64-bit resolution for mixer and other summing points. Extremely high fun factor.


Costlier than competing DAWs. New instruments cost extra. Warping capabilities. while amazing, lack some of the subtleties of Acidizing techniques, Still can’t record solo button actions. Stilt not quite a full “DAW replacement.” Doesn’t support control surface protocols other than Mackie Control (and emulations).

Ableton Suite boxed, $999; download, $799; Live 7 boxed, $599; download, $499.






Mac: G4 processor (G5 or Inter recommended), OS 10.3.9 or tater. PC: 1.5GHz processor, Windows XP or Vista. Both: 512MB RAM (1GB or more recommended).


Mac: Core Audio. PC: ASIO, MME, DirectX.


Ableton, VST, AU.


CPU-dependent, no limitations placed by Live software.


Unlock code provided upon registration.



WAV, AIFF, REX, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg FLAC, FLAC, Standard MIDI (SMF).


WAV, AIFF, SMF, plus all video formats exportable by QuickTime.


Up to 32-bit, 192kHz; 64-bit internal, calculations at all mix points; includes POW-R dithering.


Ableton’s product Line and pricing structure is as complex as Live itself is straightforward. The basic Live 7 program costs $599 boxed, and includes the Essential Instrument Collection 2. As a download, it’s $499, but doesn’t include EIC2. The flagship Ableton Suite Lists for $999 boxed or $799 as a download, and bundles Live 7 with the instruments Sampler, Operator, Tension, Electric, Analog, and Drum Machines; the boxed version adds EIC2 and Session Drums. Upgrade from Live 6, $159 boxed/$119 download. Upgrade from Live 1-5, $219/$179. Instruments (download only): Sampler, $199; Operator/Electric/Tension/Analog, $159 each; Drum Machines, $79. Session Drums or EIC 2 (boxed only), $179 each. Interestingly, Live 7 bucks the trend to bundle free instruments in order to enhance the value of an upgrade. All versions here, however, include the Simpler sample player, and Impulse, a drum sample player.


Ableton’s David Cross says, “For Live version 7, we focused on three major areas of development. Our first priority was to rebuild and enhance the core audio and MIDI engines, with 64-bit summing and improved MIDI timing. Our second priority was to integrate our most-requested features, namely time signature changes, video export, multiple automation lanes, side-chaining and tempo nudge. Third, we developed a new workflow for beat production called the Drum Rack. We think we’ve hit on something pretty cool here, using our Rack paradigm to help people construct complicated drum grooves in a simple interface.

“Our broad focus forces us to tread carefully in product development. We endeavor to implement features that simultaneously address the needs of multiple musicians from varied skill levels and disciplines. And thanks to ReWire support (both as host and client), we like to think that we compete with everything and nothing, all at once.”